Perilous Memories

The Asia-Pacific War(s)

Perilous Memories

Book Pages: 472 Illustrations: 38 b&w photographs, 3 tables, 2 charts Published: June 2001

American Studies, Asian Studies, History > World History

Perilous Memories makes a groundbreaking and critical intervention into debates about war memory in the Asia-Pacific region. Arguing that much is lost or erased when the Asia-Pacific War(s) are reduced to the 1941–1945 war between Japan and the United States, this collection challenges mainstream memories of the Second World War in favor of what were actually multiple, widespread conflicts. The contributors recuperate marginalized or silenced memories of wars throughout the region—not only in Japan and the United States but also in China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Okinawa, Taiwan, and Korea.
Firmly based on the insight that memory is always mediated and that the past is not a stable object, the volume demonstrates that we can intervene positively yet critically in the recovery and reinterpretation of events and experiences that have been pushed to the peripheries of the past. The contributors—an international list of anthropologists, cultural critics, historians, literary scholars, and activists—show how both dominant and subjugated memories have emerged out of entanglements with such forces as nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, and sexism. They consider both how the past is remembered and also what the consequences may be of privileging one set of memories over others. Specific objects of study range from photographs, animation, songs, and films to military occupations and attacks, minorities in wartime, “comfort women,” commemorative events, and postwar activism in pursuing redress and reparations.
Perilous Memories is a model for war memory intervention and will be of interest to historians and other scholars and activists engaged with collective memory, colonial studies, U.S. and Asian history, and cultural studies.

Contributors. Chen Yingzhen, Chungmoo Choi, Vicente M. Diaz, Arif Dirlik, T. Fujitani, Ishihara Masaie, Lamont Lindstrom, George Lipsitz, Marita Sturken, Toyonaga Keisaburo, Utsumi Aiko, Morio Watanabe, Geoffrey M. White, Diana Wong, Daqing Yang, Lisa Yoneyama


“[A] crucial contribution . . . . The accounts will satisfy a variety of interests. . . . [A] very rich volume . . . . Essential reading in our fin de siécle ‘memory work.’” — James Peacock , American Anthropologist

“[A]n important volume that through its problematic and its broad geographical scope questions the categories and conventions that continue to dominate memory studies. The search for marginalized and counter memories leads to important insights into the production of founding myths, hegemonic narratives, and discursive silences, and highlights the embeddedness of memory in asymmetrical structures of power. It also calls our attention to the need to take account of transnational factors that participate in the generation of memory.” — Sebastian Conrad , Monumenta Nipponica

“There are many stunning essays included here . . . . But the radical strength of the volume is in the breadth of its reach as a whole, which challenges us to rethink what we already think we know about the Asian Pacific Wars of 1931-1941.” — Katherine Kinney , Journal of Asian American Studies

"[A] valuable contribution to the current discussion of war memory, particularly memories of the Asia Pacific War. An impressive array of theoretically and geographically diverse topics are presented to testify to the heterogeneous and negotiated nature of memory that has often been subsumed under larger nationalized narratives of the Asia Pacific War." — Yoshikuni Igarashi , Journal of Japanese Studies

"[C]ompelling. . . . [P]resent[s] heartrending stories with effective simplicity. Anyone interested in the Asia-Pacific War, the politics and poetics of memory, how history serves the purposes of the powerful and how it can be made to serve the needs of the powerless, will find something of use in this volume."
— Lin Poyer , Contemporary Pacific

"Informed, provocative and concerned." — Ralph Cassell , Asahi Shimbun

"[S]traightforward and powerful. . . . This collected volume . . . provides us with a critical self-reflection on the American recent past. It also provides an invaluable lesson. . . ." — Yuehtsen J. Chung , Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"Different readers will find particular essays of more value than others. Anyone interested, however, in the problem of memory and in the Asia-Pacific Wars will find much to like in Perilous Memories."
— Jeffery C. Livingston , Journal of American History

"Perhaps the best way to describe Perilous Memories is as a work of conservation. Rather than striving to protect a rare and endangered species of bird, or to save significant objets d’art from the ravages of time and the elements, the editors of this work have set out to preserve something much more fragile and fleeting—memories, experiences and lessons and World War II. . . . The authors and editors of Perilous Memories have provided us with views of events as we seldom see them. They give us an opportunity to step outside the conventional memories to which we are accustomed, and invite us to see the events of World War II and beyond through different eyes. . . . The narratives are grouped into three broad categories based on general content. The format allows the reader to progress through the readings at a comfortable pace, while the extensive bibliographies and notations direct readers to additional resources. . . . [T]hese works give the reader an opportunity to pause and reflect, to share memories and perceptions we might otherwise not have been privy to, to challenge our views of the past and the future."
— Stephen M. Folena , American Studies International

"The book presents multi-faceted perspectives on the study of war and its effect upon people. It also demonstrates in concrete cases how memories of those catastrophic events have been narrated, interpreted, and presented over the last 50 years." — Keiko Tamura, Journal of Pacific History

"The sixteen contributors to Perilous Memories have certainly complicated the tightly compacted package that has defined World War II history. . . . The authors succeed in broadening the scope of the Asian World War II experiences by amplifying the memories of hitherto seldom heard voices and in the process broaden the scope of responsibility for the wars fought over this period of time." — Mark Caprio , Journal of Asian Studies

Perilous Memories is a major statement in current discussions concerned with assessing the problematic relationship of history and memory. The authors gathered in this volume edited by T. Fujitani, Geoffrey White, and Lisa Yoneyama forcefully rescue the memories of other wars and genocides in the arena of Asia-Pacific to remind us of the dangerous but necessary task of the present to actualize the past in order to remember the forgotten yet unforgettable. With this volume we have an incomparable guide to what Walter Benjamin once described as the ‘copernican turn to remembrance.’” — Harry Harootunian, New York University

“This excellent interdisciplinary collection of essays gives diverse and heterogeneous voice to many ordinary people who suffered in the Asian wars that began in 1931—wars that, for many of these same people, never really ended. At every turn, Perilous Memories counterpoints the extraordinary elites who have dominated historical memory with the recuperated experience of their victims. This book is a major contribution to what the authors call ‘critical war remembering.’” — Bruce Cumings, author of Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations at the End of the Century

“Unsettling official national accounts with memories of war from Okinawa, Guam, and Taiwan, of the Nanjing massacre, occupied Singapore, and the Hiroshima bombing—Perilous Memories provokes a haunting dialectic between familiar history and endangered memories.” — Lisa Lowe, University of California, San Diego


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

T. Fujitani is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego and author of Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan.

Geoffrey M. White is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, and author of Identity Through History: Living Stories in a Solomon Islands Society.

Lisa Yoneyama is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Japanese Studies at University of California, San Diego and author of Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / T. Fujitani, Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama 1

1. Memory Fragments, Memory Images

Absent Images of Memory: Remembering and Reenacting the Japanese Internment / Marita Sturken 33

The Malleable and the Contested: The Nanjing Massacre in Postwar China and Japan / Daqing Yang 50

Memories of War and Okinawa / Ishihara Masaie 87

Images of Islanders in Pacific War Photographs / Lamont Lindstrom 107

Imagery and War in Japan: 1995 / Morio Watanabe 129

2. Politics and Poetics of Liberation

Deliberating “Liberation Day”: Identity, History, Memory, and War in Guam / Vicente M. Diaz 155

Imperial Army Betrayed / Chen Yingzhen 181

Korean “Imperial Soldiers”: Remembering Colonialism and Crimes against Allied POWs / Utsumi Aiko 199

Memory Suppression and Memory Production: The Japanese Occupation of Singapore / Diana Wong 218

Go For Broke, the Movie, Japanese American Soldiers in U.S. National, Military, and Racial Discourses / T. Fujitani 239

Moving History: The Pearl Harbor Film(s) / Geoffrey M. White 267

3. Atonement, Healing, and Unexpected Alliances

“Trapped in History” on the Way to Utopia: East Asia’s “Great War” Fifty Years Later / Arif Dirlik 299

For Transformative Knowledge and Postnationalist Public Spheres: The Smithsonian Enola Gay Controversy / Lisa Yoneyama 323

“Frantic to Join . . . the Japanese Army”: Black Soldiers and Civilians Confront the Asia Pacific War / George Lipsitz 347

Colonialism and Atom Bombs: About Survivors of Hiroshima Living in Korea / Toyonaga Keisaburo 378

The Politics of War Memories toward Healing / Chungmoo Choi 395

Bibliography 411

Filmography 435

Index 437

Contributors 461
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2564-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2532-1
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